by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Arriving in Atlanta over the weekend for SEC Media Days, LSU's Head Coach Brian Kelly chose three standout Tigers to come with him for the trip, ushering in a new era in front of the world's media.
At the podium, 12:35 eastern time, LSU will be represented first by Head Coach Brian Kelly, sophomore WR Jack Bech followed by junior defenders Mike Jones Jr & BJ Ojulari.
Bech was a surprise pick to some, especially considering he's just the third LSU sophomore ever to represent the Tigers at SEC Media Days (Fournette 2015, OBJ 2012); vaulting over other offensive choices such as veteran QB Myles Brennan, RB John Emery Jr or Biletnikoff-watch WR Kayshon Boutte, Bech led the Tigers in receptions as a freshman while placing third in receiving yards.
Maybe Bech's selection speaks to Boutte and Emery's injury recoveries or Brennan's uncertainty as a starter, although I feel it's his leadership and locker room magnetism which has him on the flight to Atlanta...speaking at the podium, even at his young age. After all, repping the purple & gold as a WR at SEC Media Days is in the Bech blood: his Uncle Brett sat at the podium back in 1994.
Former Clemson linebacker Mike Jones Jr transferred to LSU last year and endured a quiet first half of 2021 before really taking off in the second half, including a sack on Heisman-winning QB Bryce Young while recording just under 40 stops in limited reps.
Now with Damone Clark graduated and drafted by Dallas, Jones Jr has taken the opportunity to start with both hands; Not only could Jones Jr be in line to contend for a Butkus Award, also playing like a potential All-American through Spring, his ability to convey his message over the mic is just as fantastic as his team leadership.
B.J Ojulari flirted with All-American status since he strapped on the pads for LSU, highlighted by a growing sack total which rose from 4 to 7, backed by his growing maturity and range as a side to side tackler. The Georgia native born of Nigerian parents with a brother excelling in the NFL, Ojulari's appearance also showcases the international & NFL heritage of a program pillar.
There will undoubtedly be a few heavy questions coming Kelly's way, all pertaining to his move from Notre Dame, while the players will likely receive some tough ones concerning the fall of former Head Coach Ed Orgeron.
Perhaps these three can answer those questions with the most finesse, while representing the definition of Kelly's new era at LSU??
In reality, Kelly chose these three because of their standing on his S.W.A.T accountability team within his program, young men he felt exemplified the program he is moulding....the future: now.
On fitting in the SEC:
"I've gotten to Love Where I'm at in Baton Rouge Louisiana. They love football, they love family & they love food. That fits me, so i guess I should've been in the South all along."
On LSU's Fitness & QBs:
"Our GPS numbers show a fitness that'll have us prepared for FSU. As it relates to QBs, we have to set the installation of our offense to their skill set. They got to get the ball to playmakers. They have to make plays."
On BJ Ojulari:
"I've gotten to know him much more as a person than a player, great player by the way, but as a person he's who you want to represent your program. He's represented us at NCAA forums, around campus & here today because his traits are outstanding. I can't say enough about him as a person."
"No one has given me any documentation that we're behind. What we're doing w/ NIL is as competitive as anyone else. I don't think we're being outbid for anyone & if so we would be even if we had $50 mill."
On DBU & Foucha & Brooks:
"They've been fantastic additions to our program. Character. We wanted young men w/ Louisiana ties who had #SEC experience. There's a lot of depth but they're going to have to prove it."
"For Us and our locker room, we don't talk about #NIL. We're all brothers. Even if there's someone making more money, they're going to take care of the brother next to them. That's not something that gets in our way."
On WR Room:
"There's nobody in that room who's average. You could put all our names in a hat & one is going to go off. What's going to elevate us is our coaches, Coach Hank(ton) & Coach Carter (Sheridan)."
On Kayshon Boutte:
"He looks better than he's ever been. They're going to need 2 maybe 3 guys to cover him, that will open up the running game & things in the passing game."
On FSU inside the Superdome for Week 1:
"The City of New Orleans is going to be on fire...."
On representing LSU as their third ever sophomore at SEC Media Days:
"It meant everything, not only to represent my family but to represent the University & the State of Louisiana & all the great people we have there. Truly an honor, and obviously, as a Catholic I'm blessed. Without God I can't really do anything but with him, I can do all things."
MIKE JONES JR
"We're really multiple. Plenty of talent, show a lot of different looks. Coach House's big thing is 'Tigers Run' getting back to LSU style of football. That's going to be our standard."
On Kelly's hire:
"His track record speaks for itself. Who else can do it better than the guys who've been doing it? The way he carries himself, what he asks of us, it all translates to the team..."
On Coach House:
"I love Coach House, I've learned a lot from him, I'm so blessed to be able to learn from him. From how he carries himself, how he interacts w/ his staff, he exposed me to a whole new level of how things can be done."
On 2022 chances:
"I think the world of this group. Every single day we got better. I've got big expectations for us. If we go out there and play to the level we're capable of & Coach House expects of us, we'll be fine."
On Tigers' DL @ SECMediaDays: "We've got a lot of guys coming back. Ali Gaye, Maason Smith, Jaquelin Roy & Mekhi Wingo has meshed well with us."
On freshmen: "I went against Will Campbell all spring, & I could see Will's improvement day by day in Spring & I'm eager to see what Emery Jones can do in fall camp & Quency Wiggins, he's coming along & will produce & create depth for our DL."
(Some formatting errors were fixed around 4:30 PM MTN Time, Our Apologies!)
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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